Band names, balloons and recording sessions: an interview with FIGHTMILK

Fightmilk are a four piece indie band (or what I like to call post indie band, to many bemused faces and “no, I’m not quite sure what you mean”s – a genre that has the melodic vibe and scratchy guitars of indie, but plays them with a more self aware and tongue in cheek tone. See, I can see you screwing your face up in an attempt to agree. You might also call it DIY, which would admittedly be easier) with a bold singer, fun rhythms, smart lyrics and inventive pop melodies. Their new EP is called Pity Party and is totally excellent, and as such I sat down with them on the night of their EP launch party to discuss.

We meet in The Victoria before doors open for their gig that night (supported by Fresh and Schande, who are both dreamy as well) and I’m buzzing to discover that Fightmilk are as much fun in person as their new EP is on record. The conversation starts with us discussing the balloons they’ve blown up 70 of for the Pity Party (get it?) they’ll be throwing later on, with singer/guitarist Lily asking “are they latex?” in concern for her stinging top lip, Adam (the bassist) saying “This is – this is all on record,” and Alex (their guitarist) quipping “Are they latex – the Fightmilk tag line”. Can you tell already this band are of the variety that don’t take themselves too seriously?

 

So first of all: I was talking about you to my flatmate last night and she said that Fightmilk is a joke from It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia. Is that the reason behind the name?

Nick (drums): Yeah, there’s a couple of episodes that centre around that – so basically, it’s an energy drink for… bodyguards?

Alex: Which is just crow’s eggs, milk and vodka… one day we will try it. Maybe for the album.

You should sell it. Market it.

Lily: Crows though, where do you find one?

Alex: It’s just sourcing the crows isn’t it. Ethically sourced crows, that’s the problem.

It is. I also saw on your twitter that you had tweeted all your possible band names, which I very much enjoyed.

Lily: Oh Jesus. I think we were watching – was it Glastonbury? A couple of years ago.

Alex: Yeah, Glastonbury. You were at your folks, I was at mine. In between you were messaging me things your mum was saying when the bands were on, and it was like right, let’s come up with a band name.

Lily: I still have a soft spot for Scumbags With Bumbags.

Alex: Both Types Of Hayfever.

Adam: Both Types OF Hayfever! Me and Nick joined once we were already called Fightmilk, and if I’d known Both Types Of Hayfever had been on the table, I would have put my foot down.

Who do you think has the best band name other than you then?

Lily: I think the band name Desperate Journalist is really fucking good.

Adam: Ooh no, I saw it on a poster the other week at The Montague Arms, it was Jimmy Floyd Hasselband.

Lily: I’m trying to think who else has the best band name… I mean, obviously there’s Keith Top Of The Pops & his Minor UK –

Nick: He’ll kill us if we get the name wrong!

Lily: – Starlet Indie Celebrity…

*Here the conversation descends into variations on Keith TOTP’s official name – a variety of nouns much like the above. Very funny, and also very hard to transcribe from the pub-based recording that I am listening to*

Alex: It’s so good we can’t remember it.

Lily: It’s like Bigfoot – you know it’s there, you just don’t know where.

You’ve already said you’re buzzing about your EP, which I’m not surprised about because it’s absolutely awesome. My favourite song on it is NYE –

All: *various cheers and ahhhh noises, one “That’s my favourite too!” which I believe was from Adam (Adam please correct me if you strongly oppose this being you…)*

Is that each of your favourite?

Nick: Yeah!

Alex: I think so!

Lily: It’s not my favourite – it’s quite an old song actually, it’s one of the first ones we wrote and I love it, cause it’s nice to have a sad banger. We’ve got two sad bangers! One sad banger, like, a year I think is a good balance. I’m glad you liked it. It’s the most emo we get.

Alex: And was genuinely written with a very bad hangover on New Year’s Day.

I also saw – through some seriously impressive stalking – that you recorded this EP at Dean Street, right? Was recording it really fun? It looked it!

Lily: It was the best weekend.

Alex: Keith TOTP –

Nick: Of band name fame!

Alex: Is involved with Dean Street, so we’ve been quite fortunate to get quite a lot of recording time there.

Nick: It’s certainly the most high spec place I’ve ever recorded! Like, it’s just phenomenal.

Alex: I think the first time we went there, [Adam] said “This isn’t just the nicest studio I’ve been to, this is the nicest room I’ve ever been in.”

Adam: Yeah, it’s the nicest room I’ve ever been in.

Lily: There is a feeling though of – cause they have a bunch of really well known musicians and bands there, quite often you go in and there’s all of the ridiculous[ly good] mixing desk and big speakers and all the instruments and that, you kind of think “I don’t really know what I’m doing, I can’t quite play the guitar, and I’m an average at best singer.”

Adam: That’s 100% not true.

*just me interjecting to say HOW NICE to see bands build each other up & believe in each other!! Yessss for 2017 (post)indie scene!*

I know what you mean though, it’s daunting.

Lily: Yeah, it’s like – Adele’s recorded there!

Nick: We’re actually thinking of asking her to co-write with us next time she’s down.

Alex: I think we wound up wasting about an hour because I’m like “Ah! Shiny instruments I just remembered I can’t play! Ok, can we overdub this on that song?!” and then we showed Nick the box of percussion and…

Nick: You can’t see, but I’m shrugging.

Adam: But yeah, it’s great fun and we’re super lucky to get the weekend, but because it’s a weekend you’re like how much can we do in the space of 48 hours?

Lily: A lot.

Alex: We’ve been there twice, and the first weekend we did 10 songs. The day after our first gig, we went in, recorded the 9 songs we had, went to the pub and came back and did the one we weren’t gonna do. And then the second time we did 8. And then at the end it’s round the corner to Garlic & Shots!

Nick: Which is a tradition.

Alex: There’s a thing they do called a blood shot, which is basically an incredibly concentrated Bloody Mary, it’s really good.

Adam: It’s a tradition of Keith’s to take any band he records with to this bar, Garlic & Shots.

Alex: I think we hit a Β£200 tab last time we were there – so that’s literally what we’ve spent all the money we’ve ever earnt on…

Nick: And will continue to do so!

Alex: Blood shots & balloons – the Fightmilk story!

I did actually think, before I’d read where you’d recorded or anything about that, that the EP really has it’s own sound. It’s really distinctive.

Lily: It sounds kind of BIG.

Nick: Three out of the four of them were done in the same session so they have a similar sound and feel to them, and then Chaperone was done in another session, so we’d sort of found our sound a little bit more by then, and that sounds kind of different to the other three.

Alex: And we’re never going to get that sound again, because the guy who engineered it has quit the studio to train as a chef.

Lily: Not just any chef, a dim sum chef!

That’s wild! So also, I’ve seen that you’ve made a music video?!

All: ahhhhh, well!

What song is it for?

Alex: It’s for Pity Party.

Lily: You know, quite often, people talk about having music videos on a shoestring budget?

Alex: We couldn’t afford the shoestring.

Lily: We shot it on our phones, there was no money put into this video.

Adam: That’s not true! We bought popcorn.

Lily: Popcorn and ice cream and beer.

Adam: Also it’s not like, oh well the budget was low but they’re all really good actors! It’s acting without words, so, like, none of us are professional mimes.

Alex: We filmed it in about 5 hours, including an hour in the pub, so after we went to the pub we got really serious about it.

Lily: Like, shit, we said we were making a video so now we have to make a video. I’ve no idea how it’s gonna look! Most of it was at Alex’s house. Some shots in Alex’s room, on the stairs –

Alex: And some in Highbury fields, which I’m going to pretend is my garden.

Nick: It’s full of strangers!

Lily: So yeah, you can expect frisbees and ice cream.

Alex: And me looking sad for 95% of it.

Sounds amazing to me. Based on the balloons, and the glitter on the merch table, and the ice cream and frisbees in the video, I feel like all the visuals are pretty important to you?

Lily: I’d never thought about that!

Alex: I feel like it’s important for tonight, because we wanted the theme to be a party.

Lily: Balloons kind of accidentally became the theme of it, because our cover is our friend Casey as a kid with a gigantic bunch of balloons.

Alex: That came out of her posting on Facebook about a year ago, posted the picture and said “I wish I had any friends who were in some kind of indie rock band because this would make a great record cover.” and I just immediately commented like “hi!”

Lily: The thing with the balloons is, they’re a nice, easy, cheap way of doing that aesthetic. They’re bright, you can draw on them, you can stick things on them… I mean, they’re nature’s toy.

Adam: We’re hoping to be sponsored by Big Balloon…

It is interesting, because I really saw that as your chosen aesthetic and what you were representing yourself through visually, but you were choosing the things that just appealed to you most, and kind of built up your distinctive aesthetic through that.

Adam: I guess it’s nice to accidentally stumble across an aesthetic rather than think about it!

Yeah, definitely. Ok, final one – who are you listening to at the moment? The big question!

Lily: This week I’ve been mostly listening to the Glow soundtrack! It’s excellent. It’s a bit of a departure from, you know, grubby punk, but I’ve been listening to a lot of Whitney Houston. And just Jessie’s Girl by Rick Springfield over and over again. All these gigantic ridiculous 80s hits that belong in a museum. My headphones are just so full of echo!

Adam: I discovered someone on Spotify recently called Hazel English, who I don’t think is that new, I think she’s been around for a while. But she’s amazing! If you don’t wanna listen to Fightmilk, listen to Hazel English because she’s great.

Alex: I just moved house, so I’ve just been unboxing all my records and CDs, so I’m just going “Oh yeah I’ve got this! I’ve got this!” So revisiting Los Campesinos!, Let’s Wrestle cause their singer’s got a solo album out that’s really good.

Nick: You were fairly big on the Lorde album weren’t you?

Alex: How did I fucking miss the Lorde album?! Yes!

Adam: It’s all you’ve talked about! It’s all you’ve tweeted about.

Alex: I’m going to be restrained and just say it’s very, very, very good.

Nick: I can’t really think, it’s quite on the spot!

It’s an on the spot question, I know.

Adam: Oh that new The National single is really good! It’s really sad. But I like that they’ve discovered drum machines. They’re one of the few bands we agree on.

Nick: We’re going on a rare band outing together to see them! So yeah, excited about that album.

Lily: Nick, you do like that new Kendrick Lamar.

Nick: I do like that new Kendrick Lamar, yes.

Adam: Ooh, the new Vince Staples album! You like that. We’re all telling you what you like! It looks like we’re just reading Pitchfork at you.

Nick: Yeah, all of them ones.

Alex: And the Sheer Mag album is fucking incredible! When it comes out, that’s gonna –

Lily: Open a can of worms!

 

And that’s a nice way to conclude, with Lily finishing her bandmate’s sentence the same way they’ve all bounced off each other the whole time I’ve spoken to them. And then throughout the show too, where they play perfectly and joyfully and like they’re enjoying every note. Which everyone else is too.

 

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Get Fightmilk’s Pity Party EP here!

 

 

 

 

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